Why every woman should shave her head once
Today is the ninth anniversary of shaving my head with my irrepressibly wonderful friend Hannah. We were seniors at The University of Georgia, it was January, and we just wanted to. She had long blonde curls and I had chin-length straight black hair. Clippers took care of both. It was just a haircut. A haircut that admittedly takes a while to grow out, but a haircut all the same. Why did it need to mean more?
GI Jane, the Lesbian Roller Derby Queen
I got a lot of stares and uncomfortable questions once I shaved my head. Apparently there is about an inch between “cute” like Emma Watson’s pixie cut and “aggressive” and “not lady-like” like Demi Moore in GI Jane. Britney Spears hadn’t followed suit yet so I narrowly avoided “crazy.” People felt very comfortable telling me that I had made a terrible decision, that I wasn’t pretty anymore and that I would never get a job with a haircut like that. Gee thanks. I recognize that it comes from a place of great privilege to attract little attention from anyone until I lost my locks (by choice). That being said, it was still ridiculous attention.
I could feel people were intimidated by me. Me! A 5”1 silly undergrad with a penchant for wearing tutus to class. I got invited to join Roller Derby, told I “looked like the girls.” Quite flattering, but I wanted to tell them that no matter what I looked like I was still dependably the worst person on any team sport. My mom cautiously, yet supportively, asked me if I was a lesbian. My Political Science professor also asked, though not so supportively, telling me she’d been taking bets with the other Professors about whether or not I was coming out. None of their business, for sure, but why was that lack of dead protein sitting on top of my head so threatening? So instrumental to me being considered feminine or pretty or heteronormative?
Learning to love my widow’s peak
There were perks. I could get in and out of the shower in two minutes. I fell in love with my widow’s peak. I enjoyed the affection from people wanting to pet me like a puppy and I delighted in my friends who didn’t skip a beat. Finally, it was an empowering experience to stop caring about what other people thought about me. For Valentine’s Day Hannah and I wore three tutus each, not just one, and biked to school screaming Whitney Houston at the top of our lungs. Why not?
Growing up (and out)
Six months after I shaved my head I moved to the Philippines. At this point I was closer to an Emma Watson — styled haircut and so I got used to being stared at for other reasons. Still, the freedom and confidence I felt there was first practiced during the spring of my shaved head.
Nine years later, I’m enjoying the convenience of a pony tail, but for those of you who have never gotten to know the shape of your head (never as weird as you think), I highly recommend getting a new look at the world by challenging others to new look at you. One tip, though- maybe file this away until after January.